Rossland elders take snow cat up Grey and Granite mountains
Twenty-seven years ago John Greene’s father, Bob, rode a snow cat up Grey Mountain with a number of other Rossland elders who helped build the Red Mountain ski area and whose skiing days were behind them. Last week John Greene arranged the same opportunity for a mostly new group of Rossland’s elders.
Only three of the people who went up Grey Mountain in 1990 are still around. Ritchie Mann, who helped organize the last trip and filmed it, Wayne Krewski, who drove the cat, and Bill Profili, who was the mayor of Rossland at the time.
Profili didn’t tag along on last Thursday’s trip, but there was a brief appearance by the current mayor, Kathy Moore, who stopped by Red Mountain Resort to wish the elders a pleasant trip before hurrying down to Trail for an announcement regarding the hospital. The group also received a sendoff from Don Thompson, president of Red Mountain Resort, and Red donated the use of the snow cat for the day’s venture.
Greene organized the trip after unsuccessfully trying to get Mann up to Sunspot cabin last fall. He was determined to find a way to take Mann on a trip into the high country.
“Then over the winter I remembered the trip that my father was on, and I saw this cat, and I thought, ‘Sh*t, why not do it?’ So I talked to Don Thompson and he said, ‘Go for it,’” explained Greene.
A total of 15 people loaded into the snow cat for a trip up Grey and Granite mountains. This time Mann left filming the adventure to Krewski, and Troy Colutti was behind the wheel of the cat. Greene stood in front of the back of the cat wearing his yellow Red Mountain show host jacket and let the elders know which run the cat was crossing and pointed out the base of the Grey chairlift, which many of the elders hadn’t seen before, having ended their skiing days before it was installed.
Unlike the elders who made the trip in 1990, those in the cat last Thursday didn’t get out at the top of Grey. While Bob Greene and company enjoyed a lunch and clear views of Old Glory and Mount Plewman on their trip, John and his party loaded into the cat in the rain and watched it turn to snow as they ascended.
After descending Grey again, the snow cat climbed Granite and there they did get out.
The snowflakes were falling fat and wet, and there wasn’t much to see, but many of the elders climbed down from the vehicle and took pictures of each other, and of what they could see, and they shared stories before loading back up into the cat and heading down to Yodel Inn.
They were met by Wake Williams, son of one of the five men who built Yodel Inn in 1944, and its current caretaker. He’d prepared a lunch of sandwiches, hot dogs, vegetables, cookies, juice and wine, which the elders enjoyed while sitting around the fire.
“I remember them hauling that up piece by piece on their backs,” Ginger Baines said of the fireplace.
Baines’ father was also one of the cabin’s original builders, and while everyone ate she shared stories about visiting the cabin during holidays.
Williams and Len Seymour, who was also on the trip, have done some work to maintain the cabin since the 1970s.
“We’ve worked together on maintaining it for about 40 years, between the two of us,” said Williams.
He now spends “a couple hundred” nights a year out at Yodel Inn.
The cabin was also a stop on the 1990 trip. That group stopped at Yodel Inn and met a Skidooer who delivered their lunch.
Following the feast, everyone loaded back into the cat and headed back to the base of the mountain, which is where Mann signed off in his 1990 film.
“I’m Ritchie Mann, and we’ve had a beautiful trip today, and a lot of old memories told to us by the old timers.”